Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/01/10

The Cardinals have had just five hits in two games, losing another 3-0 game to the home Astros on Tuesday night.



With a real shot at the division title all but gone, the Cardinals pretty much are lumped in the wild-card pool, where they appear to have a better chance of making the playoffs. They will have to score -- and actually take a lead.

For the second consecutive night Tuesday, the Cardinals were blanked by a Houston left-handed starter (J.A. Happ, Wandy Rodriguez) on the heels of a loss to Washington left-hander John Lannan on Sunday.

Tuesday's 3-0 defeat was the 12th shutout administered to St. Louis, and the team has not led at the end of an inning for the last 34 innings. The defeat was the fourth straight for the Cardinals, who have lost seven of their first nine on a disastrous 10-game trip to National League second-division teams Pittsburgh, Washington and Houston.

Right-hander Chris Carpenter pitched the type of a game a team should rally around. But Carpenter was victimized by an error by second baseman Skip Schumaker in the third inning, and ultimately Astros right fielder Hunter Pence sent a two-run triple over the head of center fielder Colby Rasmus.

"You can't make mistakes in that situation," said Carpenter of a pitch he admitted really wasn't all that bad.

Then, with the infield in, third baseman Chris Johnson punched a single over the head of Schumaker, and the three runs scored in the inning were more than enough for the Astros.

On Monday, the Cardinals mustered two singles. They outdid themselves -- sort of -- Tuesday. They had two singles and a ninth-inning double by Matt Holliday.

The Cardinals were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position with Rasmus and Albert Pujols both failing in the third and eighth. Rasmus was the key batter, hitting with one out on both occasions. He was called out on strikes both times.

"It a real struggle," manager Tony La Russa said. "Not a lot of fun for anybody. There's not a whole lot different to discuss. We just didn't do enough."

From 16 games over .500 just more than two weeks ago, the Cardinals are only eight over now.

"I don't think anybody should have expected the peaks and valleys of this club," said general manager John Mozeliak. "As a club, we're caught in a pattern that's really unhealthy. You think about how the last few weeks have gone, and it's extremely frustrating."

HOUSTON 3, CARDINALS 0: Same score as Monday night. The only difference was that the Cardinals got three hits instead of two. Three men made it to second base, as opposed to one Monday. 1B Albert Pujols went hitless for the second game in a row, and not much happens when he doesn't hit.


RHP Jeff Suppan and LHP Dennys Reyes are expected to be activated from the disabled list Wednesday, but GM John Mozeliak said there wasn't likely to be any help coming from outside the organization. The Cardinals are also expected to bring up OF Nick Stavinoha and C Matt Pagnozzi from Class AAA Memphis to join the club for the series and trip finale in Houston.

The Cardinals threw out three runners at second base. C Yadier Molina caught Michael Bourn trying to steal. Two right fielders, Jon Jay and Skip Schumaker, also caught hitters trying to stretch singles into doubles.

Houston's back-to-back shutouts of the Cardinals marked the second time St. Louis had been shut out in back-to-back games this season. Before the first occasion on July 22-23, the Cardinals had gone since 1995 without being blanked twice in a row in a year.

The Cardinals finished August at 11-15, their first sub-.500 month since June of last year. "There's a month left," RHP Chris Carpenter said. "We've got a lot of baseball left." The Cardinals have 32 games remaining.

RHP Kyle Lohse, ineffective in two of three starts since coming back from forearm surgery, will spend the weekend in the bullpen. His next start may depend on how RHP Jeff Suppan does Wednesday in his first start off the disabled list.

By the Numbers:

1.336 - 1B Albert Pujols' OPS for August, with three games remaining.


Quote to Note:

"If it happens, it happens. But I don't want to stand here thinking about it."

- Albert Pujols, on his chances for the Triple Crown.




Medical Watch:

RHP Jeff Suppan (sore right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1. He threw a three-inning simulated game Aug. 17, and he will be activated to start for the Cardinals on Sept. 1.

LHP Dennys Reyes (left elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 16. He is likely to be activated Sept. 1.

C Jason LaRue (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 13. He was moved to the 60-day DL on Aug. 19, ending his season.

RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 17. He won't need surgery, but he is out for the season.

3B David Freese (right ankle surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 15. He was originally out due to a bone bruise on his right ankle, and then he broke his left big toe in mid-July. He tore a right ankle tendon Aug. 2 in his first rehab game with Class AA Springfield, and he had season-ending surgery Aug. 6.

RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 because of tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7, which found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. As of Aug. 5, he was playing catch but not throwing off a mound. Penny is out indefinitely.

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